Students think English lessons ‘useless’

Most English students the world over want to acquire a reasonable level of competence at speaking English – not just be able to read it, and pass written tests – but they aren’t achieving that.

The story behind these newspaper headlines says that there is a serious mismatch between what most English students want and what is being taught in ESL classes. This is true the world over, not just in Korea or Japan, because most ESL courses are focused on grammar and written tests and not on speaking the language.

The truth is that there will never be enough native English-speaking teachers to satisfy the demand anywhere in the non English-speaking world, so most ESL courses are taught by people who are more comfortable with following a written ESL curriculum than holding a conversation in English.

But even if there were enough competent teachers, there would never be enough time for them to coach each of their students in intensive speaking practice, one on one. You can learn to read and write in groups. Acquiring speaking skills is an individual activity and requires individualised practice sessions.

Spoken English is a primary psychomotor skill, and you cannot acquire any physical skill by reading about it in a book.  Practising speaking is the only way to learn how to speak a language.  It is hardly surprising that the learners are dissatisfied with ESL outcomes, if all they can do is pass written tests.

YES fills the need that ESL students are crying out for. The idea of repetitive ‘drill and practice’ may not be fashionable in education today, but it absolutely works with learning speaking skills, with learning to play a musical instrument, with developing ball skills – with any psychomotor skill.  Whatever the task, you have to do it again and again to learn any complex physical skill.  Computers are very patient and cheap tutors for that sort of learning.

YES quickly builds English speaking confidence in students.  It gives them as much practice as they need to develop their vocabulary, their pronunciation, their listening skills, and their ability to recall and speak the right words and phrases at the right time.




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